Monday, December 22, 2014

The cattle were lowing

The cattle were lowing.
low [loh] 
verb (used without object)

1. to utter the deep, low sound characteristic of cattle; moo.
 

Yes, angels heralded the birth of a baby in a manger, but in my heart, I know that the shepherds came with song. You just cannot work in a field and not be inspired to sing. No doubt the wise men who traveled many miles came with song as well. I have yet to travel that I was not humming or singing. And, to top it off, the cattle were lowing.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...", my oldest granddaughter Sydney and I sang at the top of our lungs. I was taking her home after spending precious time with her. Each time I am with her, I am reminded that she has only two more years of high school then will be off on her life journey. I cherish each and every moment of memory making. "This is more fun than the radio," she said. Yes, it was indeed. We made up our own words for those we had mumbled over the years. One by one we sang off the carols we knew. Singing interspersed with laughter. Laughter interspersed with love.

I stood at the kitchen sink, preparing lunch for my two-year-old grand twins. "Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell," Nolan's sweet voice rang out as he played with his fire truck. Only a few days before, he was just adding words when I sang: Me: Jingle. Nolan: Bell. Well, you get the idea. His father was his age when he began singing, a voice that would continue to grow with the man he became. Nolan has music in his veins. Nolan has love in his veins.

My parents stood me in front of the youth group. We were at the Greenville County Home. I couldn't have been more than three or four. A little voice singing "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed." Even now I can remember being terribly frightened as these elderly people gathered around me. The home was dark, and I was afraid. Yet, the carol would not be stilled.

We were in our usual place on the middle pew on the left side of the church. I stood on the pew between Mom and Dad. Rosie and Jess Riffell sat on the second row from the front on the right side. They had been in that same spot for as long as I could remember. Junior Shuff was playing the organ. The Royer families were there. So were the Wyans, the Fourmans, the Stagers, the Sniders, the Aukermans, the Eberweins, all the families that made up our church, the family of Painter Creek Church. We all knew the songs by heart. We sang together every Sunday. Christmas was extra special. We raised our voices in joy, sometimes mismatched harmony and always in love.

A Child was born. Music filled the air and has ever since. I believe we are filled with so much love that our voices cannot be stilled. Perhaps you will find that singing this holiday season is much better than an ipod. Find joy in being with those you love. Find the joy of a season born in love. A Child is born. Let us raise our voices, young and old. Let us raise our voices in song. Merry Christmas, my friends. May the Song of this season be made real in all we do.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

To Quote Tiny Time

 Sharing my Neff Road blog:

The woman asked if we had any bells. She was taking her grandchildren on The Polar Express that runs along Mt. Hood and wanted to give them each a bell. Well, Hallmark did a good thing in making a Polar Express bell. She took four. I made sure that she knew the price. It was no small gift. She touched my arm and said with tears in her eyes, "This is important. Today is the anniversary of my mother's death. I want these children to remember me and these moments. I can't give them her, but I can give them me." I gave her a hug and told her that tomorrow (December 14) was the anniversary of my mother's passing. A bond. Children of another generation realizing the importance of being grandparents. Children missing their own parents, knowing the gift we can is in the memories we make.

The man stood at the ornament wall.  Being my usual nosy self, I asked if I could help him. He was looking for an ornament for a dog. They had just lost their family pet. I asked if he was doing okay. With tears in his eyes, he said, "No. I lost my mother in October and my father in November. Now this." "Do you mind if I give you a hug?" I asked. I hugged his tall frame and his body shook with sorrow.

I wondered if perhaps there was a reason that Mom left us in December. She was the spirit of Christmas to me. She opened her arms to all with a loving embrace.  I know I sometimes resented never having Mom and Dad to myself. I was young and did not fully understand the meaning of living a life in Christ. I never knew my parents to be selfish. I never saw them turn anyone away. They always managed to feed whoever came through the door. Love was abundant in our home. My parents never complained. They led by example.

I remember standing in the large window in our house in Wisconsin. The snow fell in large, silent flakes. Already the ground was covered with many inches of snow. White. The white you dream of as a child, waiting for Santa to visit. I looked up into the winter sky and thought to myself, "I wish you were up there, Santa." I was far away from Neff Road. I missed those cold winter days before the fireplace, roasting hot dogs and visiting with old friends and neighbors. I wanted Santa to come to take us back to Christmases before.

I do not live in that house back the lane on Neff Road any more, but the lessons I learned have followed me throughout my life. We are all given opportunities to love and to be loved. We are placed in situations that call for compassion, forgiveness and selflessness. To be aware of others is to be blessed. The gift of Christmas.

We don't have much snow here in Oregon, but I know that up in that evening sky hopes of young children will fly. Parents will embrace the delight in giving. And hopefully, each person will seek peace and love for everyone they meet. To quote Tiny Tim, "God bless us every one."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

No discord

We didn't know where the notes would lead. Sometimes they even left the page. Still we followed. We followed and knew exactly what would happen next. Not a day passed when either Mom or Dad didn't break into song. More times than not, it ended in a duet. Mom and Dad's marriage was a duet. They knew the music and passed through each day singing it together. We learned life by the sound of invisible notes.

I do not know how to explain this thing called music. I do not know why when we dance, we seem to know which way to go to follow our partner's steps. I do not know how we find the notes to harmonize or the way we improvise. If you did not grow up back the lane on Neff Road, this might all sound strange to you, but to the Loxley girls, this was our growing up. This was our way of life.

Working on a farm takes more than dirt beneath the nails and sweat on the brow. Farming has a rhythm. It sings in nature and in the love that tends the earth. The hum of the tractor, the rhythm of the planter, the birds that sing, and the crunch of gravel beneath your feet. Sounds we know from birth. Sounds that carry forward in all we do.

When I was a small girl, I learned to harmonize when my family sang. No one taught the high notes to me or the way they wrapped around the notes the rest of my family sang. No one taught me to find the patterns of notes as they climbed and fell. There was no map that lead me to the notes I should sing. The rhythms and the sounds just were. Had I been raised in a different household, I might not have had the time to listen. If I did not have parents who only knew the music that captured them in everything they did, I might not hear the song that runs through all mankind.

discord  [n. dis-kawrd; v. dis-kawrd] noun
1. lack of concord or harmony between persons or things 
 
Not a new word. One that covers the pages of newspapers, invades homes and threatens the very core of society. Discord. There is a meshing that needs to happen in order for people to live and work together. A rhythm. A need for everyone to try to blend in harmony. That way of knowing how to enhance one another, encouraging, working to live peacefully. It is in us all. I know it is. If we try hard enough, we can find that thread that ties us together. I see it every day. Someone comes into the store sad or even angry. Find the right notes and doors open. A connection is made. And....just maybe...a heart is warmed. Harmony.

As children we never had a singing lesson. We did not need someone to show us how to do it. Harmony was the heart of our lives on Neff Road. We grew from it. It embraced us. Sometimes the notes even left the page.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remember

Dear Grandchildren,

You will read about it in your history books. You will see video and perhaps visit the site yourselves, but you will not know the terror that ripped through us that morning of 9/11. Your uncle/daddy and I watched, tears streaming down our faces, anger and sadness tearing our through our hearts. We cannot forget. I ask you not to forget. Life is precious as precious as is our freedom. Hate is the enemy. Even in the smallest form. I ask that you remember and be a light in this world that has known such terrible loss and pain. I ask that you be bearers of peace. I embrace you today and remember. 


Love, Grammy

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Like a firefly

Like a firefly, it caught my eye. As quickly as it flashed its yellow light, it disappeared. Yet the memory of that firefly stays with me forever. Mom would punch holes in the top of a jar so the little bugs could breathe. Around the yard we ran chasing them. The little light would flash, I would run a quickly as possible to capture the firefly, and when the light went out, I stood clueless as to where the tiny target had gone. Like a firefly, it caught my eye.

We try to hold on to it, but it flits away, this illusive thing called time. We capture the memories, placing them into a jar of yesterdays only to find that they flit in and out of our lives like little yellow lights on the tail of time gone by. Memories. We can keep them, relive them, cherish them, but the memories are not the same as the real thing.

Darn it, life just goes too quickly. The twins who were babies two years ago have gone from wordless wonders into toddling marvels full of new words. I am aware of time when I am with my grandchildren. I am aware that I cannot save it for another day. I cannot take it out when I need more nor can I store it in a cupboard in reserve for a time when needed. I have been blessed to have my four grandchildren together this summer. Watching these children interact pleases me to no end. I see the adults that they will become caring for one another, keeping the family history alive and in the memories they will share, in that jar with the holes on top. However, I find that as adults we tend to forget about our place in their memories.

Forgive me, but I dislike the family gatherings where the children sit at their own little table. I cringe when I see them separated out. Yes, I was a farm kid and in the middle of the family table. On large family gathering, the men sat in the kitchen and the women in the living room around a card table. I got to sit with the women yet sometimes found myself on my dad's lap in the kitchen. I learned from these adults. I learned about my family, about the neighborhood, about things that I was yet to understand. More importantly, I learned that I was not an age, a child to be set aside. I was indeed recognized as an equal part of the family.

When my children were small, I remember reading that it was important to realize what children see. These small beings who wrapped in swaddling look up into our faces seeing noses and chins or in a bed looking at ceiling and bed rails. A toddler who wraps small fingers around your hand only able to see knees and things closer to the ground. It doesn't take much to realize how the child feels. Emma wants up. She wants to see the world. Nolan climbs up as high as he sometimes feet in my face so he can get a glimpse of what I can see. In the car, I look into the rear view mirror and see my children watching the back of the seat in front of them. What do they see? What do they hear? What do they learn?

I wanted to change all that. I want the same for my grandchildren. A car is the perfect place to sing and tell stories, to look out the window at the marvels we pass, to interact through games and find delight in the company of one another. When families gather, I always try to be aware of the children. Yes, sometimes they cry for attention. Who wouldn't when adults are concerned with adult conversation, ignoring the children who should be happy just to play. We are social creatures at all ages. We learn to be adults by the way we are treated as children. I have found over the years that some of the most enjoyable friends I have gathered were children when we first met. Looking at a child and seeing them as a equal teaches them to care about others. Eye contact, a touch, sharing conversation with even a toddler puts more light in that jar with the holes on top.

My mother knew this. She always had time for children. They stayed in her life even as they grew up and had families of their own. Mom knew that it was important to recognize all people. Mom knew that sometimes she had to step away to give attention to the child and let the adults do without her for a while. She included children in all she did. She respected the child. Mom knew that as with a firefly, the season of life is short. Memories are gathered...those that just flight by for a moment.

I am not a grandma who stands on the side and watches the children. No, you will find me on the floor becoming part of the memories of my grandchildren. Grandparenting is not a spectator sport. Like a lightening bug, it catches my eye, this illusive light called life.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thought for the Day

A smile reflected in the face of another, that is joy. A hug for a stranger suffering a loss, that is compassion. Reaching out to others putting yourself aside, that is humility. Finding something wonderful in every person, that is love. Today is a new day, that is hope.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

MeMe, too

MeMe:  Some day you will ride a bicycle.
Emma:  Nonan, too?
MeMe:  Yes, Nolan, too.
Emma:  Dada?
MeMe:  Yes, Daddy, too.
Emma:  Mama?
MeMe:  Yes, Mama, too.
Emma:  MeMe no.  MeMe fall.

True. I did take a spill off of a bike while riding with my daughter long before my son was even married. In my defense, my daughter stopped in a tunnel. I took out the wall to prevent hitting her. Haven't gotten back on a bike since. Now, Emma is only two. I know that no one has told her this story. So what is it in her mind that is sure that MeMe plus bicycles spells disaster? Does she see me as old and reckless?

I am very active with the kids. I guess I don't see me as an age. In fact, I think too often society puts me in a box expecting me to be a typical 67 year old. I recently did a survey for my medical provider. I was asked if I had home care. Did I need someone to set up my medications? The questions went on and on. I had an urge to stop the stupid survey that was making be feel older by the minute. These questions might have applied to a woman my age 30-40 years ago, but they don't apply now. We are the boomer generation. We are active and healthy. So why should we feel old just because we are considered seniors. Argh! I don't even like to be called a senior. I am like any other age. We all have different health issues at different times in our lives. My body might be heading south in ways like arthritis, but that does not make me old, in need of care. Maybe age should be determined by state of mind.

Millie, the Airedale, has numerous remnants of stuffed toys laying around for her delight. I tuck a 'fuzzy tail' into the back of the back of Emma and Nolan's pants and one in my back pocket as well. We crawl around on all fours just like Millie. The twins giggle and laugh. Me? I wish their parents didn't have hardwood floors. I duck and crawl beneath their outdoor play structure, peek-a-booing with two giggling tots. We sit on the floor and play cars. We curl up on the rug to read books. I bob a kid or two on my foot for a horsy ride and swing a 25 pound child in the air. So, no, I'm not in need of home care. I can still open my medicine bottle.

My older granddaughters lay their heads in my lap. We talk about all the things we want to teach the babies. Things that we did when they were small. I see in the girls the imagination that we shared when they were little. They talk of the dancing around the room and their paintings hung on wire stretched down the staircase. Sydney is 15 and Gabby almost 13. The age difference in cousins is not insurmountable, because age doesn't matter. We will dance with the twins and painting will hang on the wall.

I don't think I will take any more surveys. Perhaps I will surprise the doctor on my next visit by riding a bike into her office. Emma would probably scold me.

MeMe:  Some day you will ride a horse.
Emma:  Nonan, too?
MeMe:  Yes, Nolan, too.
Emma:  Dada and Mama?
MeMe:  Yes, Dada and Mama.
Emma:  No MeMe.  MeMe fall.
MeMe:  Oh, Emma, MeMe can ride a horse. MeMe won't fall. I love to ride horses.
Emma:  MeMe, too.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Eye to eye

An old segment on the Today Show: A mother had posted a picture on Facebook. A friend had seen the picture of the daughter noticing something out of the ordinary. She told the mother that her child should see a doctor as soon as possible. The thing that caught the eye of this friend was a white spot on the eye of the child. A doctor diagnosed that she had a cancer in her eye and would lose the eye. It could have taken her life. The quick observation of a friend saved the child's life.

I had seen this same dot in my grandson's little eye. Nolan, not yet two, is a healthy child chasing his twin sister around. My mind raced and so did I.....straight to the picture. I needed more to go on before I called my son. And I found it. Two more photos showed the spot in the same eye on this darling little face. I made the call.

When James and Lisa took Nolan to the doctor, she informed them that when she received the call from them, she was afraid it might be cancer. But it is not. Nolan has a vision problem with his left eye. Since birth he has used the stronger eye allowing the left to become even weaker. Over time we have noticed that he tugged on the left eye. Sometimes it even seemed to droop a little. By the grace of God, Nolan only needs to wear glasses to help with the condition.

Last night he was presented with his new glasses. He is to have a patch over his eye for two hours a day. So being this supportive family, parents, grandmas and Emma all wore patches and glasses. He struggled a bit with the plethora of things on his face. Emma had glasses with no glass and bored of the game quickly. But we adults learned a lesson. It was difficult getting used to the patch. For me with mono-vision contacts, it was a challenge to get around. My perception was off as it was for the other adults. Finally we removed the patches. A sigh of relieve filled the room. Nolan's glasses were placed back on his face. Tentatively he looked around. I picked up a book and read to him. Before I knew it, the glasses were ignored as he pointed out cars and trucks. He hopped down and began playing with his sister. Neither Nolan nor Emma seemed concerned that Nolan now wears glasses.

I learned something about myself. I learned that I take a lot for granted. Not only could it have been much worse for Nolan had this not been diagnosed, but I learned what it is for him to experience this and not feel alone. Nolan will wear glasses the rest of his life. His beautiful face will still be beautiful. His gorgeous eyes will still sparkle. The little frogs on the side of his glasses will go away over time as he grows to adulthood. We are learning from this experience. We work as a family to support each member even if we need to be pirates for a couple hours a day.

Argh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Flight of Time

Catch it! Hurry up, get on it, catch it! Oops, got away again. Well, seems no matter how hard you try, you just cannot catch time and keep it. Time flies. Time sneaks past you when you aren't looking. The past month did not just sneak by me. It trampled me and left me in the dust. Time, you are an ornery devil.

Life does get chaotic. Seems that we blink and we are a year older wondering where the sixty-seven years went. I can find them in the photo album and in my pictures on my phone. I can find them in the hair that gets lighter and lighter with time. I see it in the inches the grandchildren grow or in the white hair on my son's head. Too often I notice it in the loss of a loved one. I see the loss in the eyes of a little girl who lived on Neff Road.

I am often wished a good day by customers. I tell them that every day is a good day. Why would I not want each day to be the best ever? I choose to have good days. I choose to pass it on and make someone else feel that perhaps they will do the same. My days will all be good because they are precious.

Sometimes our lives are taken up with the lives of our children. Babysitting is a gift. I told this to James and Lisa yesterday. I have two beautiful twins to hug and play with several times a week. What more could I want for my birthday. Yes, time flies when you are having fun. My son wrote a musical that is using the music of a Grammy Award winning composer and singer. We are novices at this production thing, so as a family, we are learning the ropes. Thank goodness I know a little about public relations. The show is going to NYC for a reading for said artist and producers in August. I am the person who is setting up the contacts and press releases for the show. This I do while working and babysitting. Yes, time sometimes flies by in chunks.

I've decided that we do not need to feel slighted that time has gone so quickly. I am thinking that celebrating how well we lived those flighty moments is much better than mourning the loss of time. I had a birthday yesterday. It was a great day from beginning to end. All four grandchildren spent the day with me. I had a lovely evening with James and Lisa. Phone calls, emails, posts made me laugh, cry and love being remembered. Oh, it was a good day. So why am I so tired today and my back aches? Sometimes this flight time leaves us exhausted.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Me

Small hands. Little toes. Eyes that quickly change from questioning to inquisitive. A kiss from a wet pucker. "Up, up", "Me" - all the things a grandparent cherishes. Each little look, each little sign that you are the one they want. Even the call to discipline takes you in and captures you. You are a grandparent doing exactly what a grandparent should be doing.

I discovered this week that Emma (one part of the twin duo) calls me "Me". We've had trouble understanding her words for me. At one time I was "Gaga" then it change to "Neenee". For Easter I gave the twins puzzles with sounds. One puzzle consists of vehicles. Emma pulls each one out and asks if I will take her on it. I know because she points to the puzzle piece then points to me. Then determinedly shakes her head that yes indeed we will go on that particular vehicle. She picked up the helicopter, pointed to herself then pointed to me and said "Me". "Me?" I asked. With a shake of her head, I discovered that I am Me. Not surprising since I say things like: Want me to get it? Want me to read a book?  So why wouldn't I be Me?! (I think I've confused myself.)

Discovery. I discover as much about them as they do about this world they have been dropped in to. It seems that every moment I spend with them is a surprise. At 21 month, they have become explorers and inventors. At 66, I have become more of Me.

Me. Just who is 'me'? After all these years, you would think I'd be on top of that subject, but I find that in reality, I am more and more aware of things I never knew about me. By being so involved with the children on a regular basis, I seem to be the cameras emotional eye that sees beyond the image. I see how precious those little toes and fingers are, because they will be all grown up and not so readily wanting to hold Me's hand. I see the little things that happen and surprise me. Emma's sense of humor. Nolan's love of music. I am awed on a regular basis.

Many times I felt that my parents were not supportive of me. I felt alone most of my life. My sisters were older. I grew up in an adult world. I was always wanting support and found it only came at a price. While watching my grandbabies this week, it suddenly hit me. Just as their parents don't have the time or the understanding to appreciate what I have with these babies, my parents were the same...maybe more so. When the farm didn't take up their time, the church did. The generation gap between my sisters and I was big enough but that with my parents was huge. They were busy living their lives as best they could, doing what they had been raised to do. Doing what they had to do to survive and provide. Our house was always bustling with young people and Mom babysitting for everyone in the area. They were living their lives. It could be that because of that loss of time with them that I realize the importance of what I have now. Not just for myself, but also for those who know me.

A man I know came into the store looking for cards. I asked Ed about his grandkids. He informed me that he couldn't stand to have them visit. They were noisy, uncontrolled and messed up his house. Never was he a man of warmth, but this startled me. A grandparent who didn't know what he had. A few months later, he lost his wife to cancer and he himself was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His loss. His loss of time with the precious ones he leaves behind. His loss of growing and changing despite his age. What legacy will he leave behind? Just what has he missed in receiving and giving?

Yes, I am Me. Me. A child who learned late in life exactly what it is to love without any expectations or needs. A woman who found that each person, once adorable little fingers and toes, is a precious adult. As a grandma who counts each and every blessing. Me. I think I like it. I'll just be Me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Doggone Love

We lost Sadie in 2003. She was a sweet schnauzer who captured our hearts nine years earlier when she was a fat little puppy. A dog had been part of our household since my children were small. The first schnauzer was named Pepper. We lost her when she got into a batch of chocolate candy. Getting a second dog was done with trepidation. Hearts get wrapped around a family pet regardless of the animal.

Dogs, cats, horse, calf, lambs, rabbits, I had them all as pets and none were allowed to live in the house. Having a pet in the house was a new, wonderful experience. I always looked forward to having Sadie greet me at the door when I came home from work. She was good at keeping watch over me as well as staying close when something sad came our way. My children loved her, and she adored them. This having an animal in the house was pretty cool.

There isn't a week that goes by that someone doesn't come into the store looking for a sympathy card for a friend who has lost a beloved pet. We stand by the cards and talk about our pets waiting to greet us again someday. There is a bond we share in the tears we have shed. And, those of us who have lost pets wonder if we can do it again.

We once took our dog with us on a visit to the farm. Of course, our house-raised pet was not about to stay outdoors. My kids wouldn't have stood for it....nor would their mother. At first, Dad and Mom were a bit gruff with Pepper. Yet seems many animals have a sense about we humans. They are pretty good at winning over the reluctant petter. Before long I noticed Dad lowering his hand and wiggling his fingers so the pup would go to him. It wasn't the way on the farm. Animals were supposed to stay outside. But a little bit of the indoor pet managed to take hold of the farmer.

It has been a long time since a pup came to reside with me. I miss having a dog but am not ready for the pain that will eventually come with the loss of  a loved pet. I mentioned my recent longing to my son.

Me: I think I need a puppy.
Him: You don't need a puppy.
Me: I could talk to it.
Him: Get a puppet.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Book and A Margaritas

Everyone who knows me knows that a book is never far away. I have a stack of books at home to read. I always have one or two in my car for those times I find myself sitting for a bit. I love my books.

My friend was late. I was sitting at the restaurant with a novel sitting upright in a collapsible book stand. A young man came to take my order. "You don't see those very often," he said, referring to my book. "Most people have a Kindle or something else." Hm. I was speechless.

As a writer, I love the feel of a book. I love to have shelves full of my favorite books. The library is right down the street and one of my favorite places to visit. I cherish the pages of a book and the words written on them. Some books, such as Les Míserables, even have memorable phrases marked in them. I can't do that on a Nook or Kindle. I want paper and ink!!!

This seems to be a conflict for a woman who tries to stay progressive. For Christmas, I gave my oldest granddaughter a vintage collection of Jane Eyre. I collect beautifully illustrated children's books for my grandchildren. I read the classics and keep them to read again and again. If I have no books that I truly own, I cannot pass on the literature I hold dear. And, I'm not that old! I've only had sixty-six Christmas's, birthdays and other holidays. Not many.

Books have quite a history. Text has been found written on clay tablets, then in wax and on papyrus, finally ending up type-set on a printer. The written word has indeed been around a long time. We search in caves and in rubble looking for written word. Pictorials and images tell stories as well as do the words in ancient languages. Still they are all forms of books telling stories of people long ago. Certainly, I'm pleased that I don't carry around a slab of clay or a bulky papyrus. A book seems just about the right size. And, with a book, clay tablet, papyrus or wax, it can't just fade into oblivion if your computer is hacked.

I sat sipping a margarita with my book and book stand in front of me, wondering if perhaps the waiter might like to hold this vintage thing called a book.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tools of the trade

The chef has pots and pans. A gardener has a hoe, a spade, a pair of gardening gloves. The contractor has blue prints. The designer has pieces of fabric, pins and a sewing machine. On and on it goes with each profession having tools of the trade.

A woman dashed into the Hallmark store in a panic. "Do you have  party items for the movie "Frozen", she asked ."I can't find party supplies!" Well, no you can't find them because party supply stores are becoming a thing of the past. Hallmark doesn't carry them anymore. I refer more and more people to the pharmacies and dollar stores. However, finding a specific theme is next to impossible unless you go online. So I did what I do quite often.

"You know, you could make your own decorations and even have the children help." I went on to tell her about sugar cube projects, using styrofoam and flour or sugar to make snow, marshmallow snowmen and theme decorations purchased in the Christmas sale items. She left the store quite excited. My job was done. I was using the tools of my trade.

We seem to forget that we can be creative. Even if we don't have a knack for it, ideas can flow if we let them. The creative ideas are perhaps a bit more work but a whole lot more fun. As parents we sometimes are so busy that we forget that we have tools that we can use to help our children develop their own.

I have tools of my trade being the grandma that I am. They come from years of watching and interacting with children. I didn't have time to pull out the old toolbox when I was a young mother. Life was flying by, and I didn't have time to step back and look at what I could present to my own. As a grandma, I am an observer who wants to challenge my grandchildren to expand their creativity and to use their imaginations. There isn't room for failure, because all efforts are just perfect. So....what tools are in my toolbox. I have instruments that have come my way over time: a melodica, a ukulele, a guitar, a set of bongos (my fav), a xylophone, tenor and soprano recorders, a drumstick that works well on all surfaces and a strange little instrument that make a squeaky scale.

In large basket, I have art supplies. It is full of paints, canvases, crayons, colored pencils, chalks...you name, I have it. Another bin has stickers, beads, cords and, of course, blank paper on which to create. The toy box has a variety of toys ready for imagination. The bookshelf waits for little hands to find a treasure. Children's books that are full of beautiful art are my favorite. Give the child a camera and see the world in a new way. The best tool of all is my imagination. The kids and I can find adventure everywhere we look. Those are the tools of my trade.

There is no age limit on using those tools. We always have something to share with those around us. We always have ways to inspire and create a learning world. We have the years behind us that allow us to open creative doors for those children given to our lives. We are the toolbox full of ideas and the love of sharing.

You and I are tools of the trade.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Heart

Amid the mass of last shoppers lined up in doubles looking over shoulders to see the cards, there is a quiet section in the back corner of the store. A few lone shoppers look at sympathy cards. Valentines day is indeed a day of the heart. A heart that loves, a heart that aches as it remembers and a heart that has to say good-bye. Remembering those loves that are no longer here....but are here in my heart. Valentines Day is not always easy.

It is a great time to give a smile, a compliment, a helping hand. A time to be a gift in yourself reaching out to others. A time to share the love you have inside with someone close to you and perhaps someone you don't even know. Start the love today.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A non-cable life

Living on a fixed income has some benefits. Now some might think this is not a benefit, but indeed I find it delightful. One of the cuts I had to make in my daily living was doing away with cable TV. I wasn't too upset, because I find little enjoyable to watch with all of the channels available on cable. Thus I went back to the bare roots of television. The old antenna. Well, the old antenna has been improved to do some long range searching which gives me a few more channels even though at time they fade in and out. I just make up the dialogue I missed and continue on with the viewing. Makes for creative watching.

I love memories awakened by old shows. I grew up on shows that were already old when I was a kid. Roy Rogers movies, Hopalong Cassidy, my sister's favorite. Old reruns of black and white movies. I didn't care. They were all fascinating entertainment to this little kid.

Saturday mornings meant Rin Tin Tin and Fury. Sunday night was Disney and Lassie. My Three Sons, Perry Mason, Mom's favorite Lawrence Welk were evening shows. We watched them all with regularity. Anticipation filled the house when Show of Shows was about to come onto the screen.

This morning I'm down with a bad back. It's Sunday morning so lots of old time TV is happening. I watched Richard Greene in Robin Hood. It was a favorite when I was a kid. I never missed. The show that followed caught me by surprise. A show I had completely forgotten about. Circus Boy. Until I looked it up, I didn't know that Micky Dolenz (of the Monkee's) played the main role of Corky. Noah Beery, Jr., Sterling Holloway, the voice of Winnie the Pooh and many other Disney characters, were part of the cast. An interesting side bar: Micky Dolenz was given guitar lessons during the show's run so he could do publicity tours with Bimbo the elephant, playing the guitar and singing.

I wonder what other treasures I will discover from this black and white era. How I would love to find the old movie with Sabu the elephant boy. Maybe even a few Douglas Fairbanks movies with him flying across the screen. Just a woman with a bad back looking further back for memories filled with smiles. Hm....Ding, Dong School, The Gale Storm Show, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Our Miss Brooks, Topper, Thin Man, Tom Terrific. Shows forgotten until a little memory comes to light. Loving this non-cable life.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Just a blink

A customer came up to the counter. I wished her a happy new year. She looked at me and said, "The time is going faster. Would you believe that even my grandson told me that he thought the same and he is only in his thirties." I would believe it. My son has said the same. Thus I can't blame it on age.

Oh, yes, time is going faster. I feel it constantly this slipping away of hours and days. What was once a 365 days seems only a couple of months long. What makes this time spin and twirl away from us?  Maybe it is an awareness we stumble upon that gives us pause to consider this flying time. In the blink of an eye.

My mother's words stay inside this head of mine echoing again and again. "It all went so fast." So are we so busy living that we forget to take time to meditate, take deep breaths, realize the essence of each moment?  Because of my mother's words, I have learned to appreciate each day and each person in that day. In the blink of an eye.

Part of what is happening is this age of technology. The days of long visits and cherished long distance phone calls have been changed instead to instant gratification. The phone goes where we go, and we text with great speed. We Skype and have face time. That voice on the other end of the line is replaced by words on a screen. Now I'm not complaining. Our intelligence, our search for knowledge, that drive to create bring on progress, inevitable progress. We can't stop that yearning to learn, to improve. It's human nature. Yet, the richness of what went before is being lost in the race forward. I'm as guilty as the next person. Perhaps that is why I write of the life I knew. It is a way to preserve and record a slower time when face time consisted of people in the same room.

Technology has brought many of you back into my life. The internet has bridged gaps and miles. It lets old relationships have new beginnings. Perhaps in some way it is stretching that time of friendship and family when we might have lost touch forever. Perhaps in some way my computer is keeping track of time for me. It slows me down, so I can sort out my thoughts and write. It allows me to look back at old messages and pictures. It is a place I can research history. It allows me to hold on to time.

It slips away this thing called time. It disappears in the blink of an eye. I wonder where it goes.